Iran Flashes Threats, also ‘Moderation’ — Israeli Intelligence Peers at Nuclear Plant at Arak

Many Israeli civilians have lined up to receive their government-issued gas masks, out of the understandable fear that Syria — if struck by the United States — could conceivably launch missiles into Israel.

Israelis also noticed statements by an irascible, radical Iranian politician, threatening that if Syria is struck then the whole region — and “the Zionist entity” above all — would be on fire.

Israel’s intelligence assessment is, in fact, that Syria is highly unlikely to challenge Israel’s military might. To say the least, Syria’s armed forces are tied down by their domestic civil war.

Hasan Rouhani

As for Iran, the predominant political line there is the portrayal of the recently elected president — Hasan Rouhani — as a “moderate.” Iran is not expected to visibly attack any country, when Rouhani has a major p.r. project: his trip to New York to address the United Nations General Assembly next month.

Suffice it to say that Rouhani is expected to try hard to be the “non-Ahmadinejad.”

But serious Israeli analysts who are in the know are focused on something else in Iran: its continued, intensive nuclear enrichment. On the other hand, there is a new report from the U.N.’s International Atomic Energy Agency that somewhat eases deep concerns about a facility called Arak.

This is how Reuters reported it from Vienna:
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said Iran informed it a few days ago that the planned commissioning of the Arak research reactor – which could yield potential bomb material – had been delayed from early next year.
“This is a positive development since the reactor would produce plutonium that, if separated, could be used in nuclear weapons,” a U.S. think-tank, the Institute for Science and International Security [ISIS], said in a comment on the report.
Here is our analysis — by Yossi Melman, who closely follows these quarterly reports from the IAEA:

It says that to prepare for accelerated uranium enrichment, Iran has installed more centrifuges, including an advanced model. But, on the other hand, Iran has slowed down its production of 20%-enriched uranium. It now possesses 185.8 kilograms of that material. In the last 3 months, it produced less than 4 kg — less than some experts had expected — and the rest was converted into fuel plates.

Iran therefore is continuing to be careful not to get close to the “red line” set by Prime Minister Netanyahu at the U.N. nearly a year ago.

However, Iran is making progress at Arak and continues to refuse to let the IAEA have access to that facility. Quoting the IAEA: “The lack of up-to-date design information [on Arak] is having an increasingly adverse impact on the Agency’s ability to verify the design of the facility and to implement an effective safeguards approach. The Agency requires this information as early as possible in order, inter alia, to ensure that all possible diversion paths are identified, and appropriate safeguards measures and customized safeguards equipment are put in place.”

August 28, 2013

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